This recipe is one of our favorites. Chicken pesto pasta with peas is so universally appealing. Honestly, I make it all the time. I have some short cuts that make it super fast to pull together and it’s good hot and cold, so it can be made ahead. Chicken pesto pasta with peas is great for dinner, lunch, potlucks, and to give a meal to someone you love (or like).
There isn’t anything super exciting about this pasta, although my kids get excited when I make it, especially Lily. I’m pretty sure she would put pesto on everything if she could. I sometimes use spinach pesto for this recipe, but I also make it with store bought basil pesto and that tastes delicious!
I also like to use fun pasta. Some people ask why I don’t use whole wheat pasta. The quick answer is I don’t like it. Now, I do like a lot of of the bean and lentil pastas that are coming on the market, so I could use those for a recipe like this, but I love a good corkscrew pasta and so far, I haven’t seen that in the healthy pastas. Also, we get so much fiber from other foods, it’s okay to have semolina pasta every once in a while.
Here are my secrets to making this a super fast dish (sort of)
- Cook your chicken in a slow cooker. I put chicken breasts in the slow cooker, sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the top, but the lid on and cook on low for 6 hours. After that, it’s perfectly shred-able and ready for me when I need it. That’s secret #1
- Make pesto beforehand or use store bought. There is nothing wrong with store bought pesto as a time saver
- Frozen peas. This was probably a no-brainer, because pea season is pretty darn short. In all seriousness, who shells large amounts of peas? Not this girl.
While the pasta is cooking, make a salad and get the table set.
- 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
- 8 ounces corkscrew pasta
- 1 cup homemade or store bought pesto
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Cook chicken according to preferred method - suggestion: Add boneless, skinless chicken breasts to slow cooker and set on low for 6 hours. Chicken will be ready to shred when you are
- Cook pasta according to package directions
- When pasta is done cooking, reserve ½ cup cooking liquid and drain pasta
- Transfer pasta to a serving bowl, stir in pesto, peas, chicken, and parmesan cheese
- Add a small amount of pasta water if the pasta seems dry
- Serve immediately, or keep in the refrigerator for later